I thought a little about this idea of marking tense on
the noun.

To me, from a practical point of view, there shouldn't
be real problems to do so, except that you have to
choose which noun would be affected. In "The guy shot
the sheriff with a revolver", will it be "the guy",
"the sheriff" or "the revolver" ? Or two of them ? Or
the three of them ? While normally in a predicate
there is only one verb, thus it is easier to mark the
verb. One can suppose that it would rather be the
subject that would be marked: "The guy-PAST shoot the
sheriff with a revolver", if needed.

I think sometimes it makes sense to mark a noun (be it
subject or not) with tense, for ex in : "Who wants
yersterday's papers ?", or "I (meaning: the little boy
that I was at that time) was scared in the dark". But
IMO, when a sentence is in the past, or in the future,
it usually means that all of its elements are
considered as in the past, or in the future. So the
real choice is, either marking the verb, as the centre
and most important term of the sentence, either the
whole sentence, by adding a separate word, for ex at
the beginning or at the end of it:
PAST the guy shoot the sheriff with a revolver.
This would be a kind of factorization: PAST (the guy
shoot the sheriff with a revolver), just like in: y =
x(a+b+c) = xa + xb + xc.

I don't mean that natlangs behave like that, I just
mean that, from a logical point of view, this is what
I probably would do.

In Russian, the mark for conditional is a separate
word, "by". So why should tenses not be separate words
too ?

(NB. About ergative, it came back to me that I already
posted a whole theory about it on this list some weeks
ago, and had forgotten it. It was when I read the
expression 'split ergative' that I remembered it).

--- Jim Grossmann <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Mark P. Line wrote:
> "That said, I think it's [marking tense on the noun
> is] an *awesome* idea
> for a conlang. It's different enough from the way
> natlangs work to be
> intriguing, while not so different that it would
> prevent usage (unlike, say,
> unrestricted center embedding).  Lots of natlangs
> have clause-level markers
> on nouns, after all -- but they tend to be involved
> with valence assignment
> and/or pragmatic functions that are more-or-less
> intimately tied up with the
> noun being marked."
> Jim G. wrote:
> When I read this, the first thing that came to my
> mind was a system in which
> vowel-alternation was used to mark proximate vs.
> remote AND past, present,
> and future.  In this nonce-language, assume that all
> the vowels are
> syllabic:
> v-dors	(dog)
> -a-	proximate
> -i-	remote
> -u-	past
> -o-	present
> -e-	future
> vaudors	this-dog-in-the-past
> vaodors	this-dog-in-the-present
> vaedors	this-dog-in-the-future
> viudors	that-dog-in-the-past
> viodors	that-dog-in-the-present
> viedors	that-dog-in-the-future
> Yes, I'm assuming that only nouns or pronouns would
> carry past, present, or
> future markers.
> I threw proximate vs. remote into the mix because,
> to me, it seemed pleasing
> and "natural" in a very broad esthetic sense to pair
> information about
> location in time relative to the moment of the
> utterance with information
> about the literal or figurative spatial
> relationships that the referents of
> the nouns have to the speaker.   I couldn't help
> picturing imaginary
> hillbillies saying things like "that then dog"
> instead of "that there dog."
> Would the foregoing illustrate tense marking on the
> nouns?
> Jim G.

Philippe Caquant

"High thoughts must have high language." (Aristophanes, Frogs)

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